TALE OF THE TAPE

Week 14: Chicago Bears At Minnesota Vikings

Bears
Vikings
Divisional Playoffs - Seattle Seahawks v Chicago Bears
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 09: Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings during opening day against Jacksonville Jaguars on September 9, 2012 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Jaguars 26-23 in overtime. (Photo by Andy King/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 09: Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings during opening day against Jacksonville Jaguars on September 9, 2012 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Jaguars 26-23 in overtime. (Photo by Andy King/Getty Images)
Quarterback
Winner The Bears certainly respond much better when Jay Cutler is in the lineup and healthy. He is usually at his best when the game reaches the fourth quarter. Cutler has the arm strength and quick release to make game-changing throws and he has an especially good rapport with explosive wideout Brandon Marshall. Cutler is an underrated athlete who can make excellent throws on the run.
Christian Ponder is a caretaker at the quarterback position. The difference between a game manager and a care taker is that a game manager can lead a team to important wins by taking what the defense will give him and not making mistakes. Ponder is the player who happens to be holding on to the quarterback position this year. Unless he improves dramatically, he won’t hold that position in the future seasons.
Offense
Winner Running back Matt Forte is not at his best right now because of an ankle injury, but he still carried the ball 21 times for 66 yards in the Week 13 loss to Seattle and he also caught three passes for 30 yards, including one for a touchdown. Backup Michael Bush gives the Bears a solid between-the-tackles alternative. Marshall is one of the best big-play receivers in the league.
Adrian Peterson is a sensational running back who is coming off one of the best games of his career. He gained 210 yards on 21 carries against Green Bay, and that included a career-best 82-yard touchdown run. However, the Viking passing game is not going to get it done very often, especially against a powerhouse defense like the Chicago Bears. If wide receiver Percy Harvin can return from his ankle injury, the Vikings have a chance to make a fight out of this game.
Defense
Winner While the Chicago defense has had a few problems in recent losses to San Francisco and Seattle, they should be able to hold their own against the offensively challenged Vikings. The Bears need to force turnovers and get off the field quickly because they have an older group of players who can get worn down. That’s what happened in the overtime loss to the Seahawks.
The Vikings have a hard hitting and talented defense. However, they have problems getting stops on third-down plays. They couldn’t do that in Week 13 against the Green Bay Packers and that cost them a chance at an upset. Defensive end Jared Allen could have a big game against the Bears’ struggling offensive line and linebacker Chad Greenway is a solid tackler.
Special Teams
Winner The Bears have not been getting big plays out of their return teams this year, and that’s a disappointment for Lovie Smith. However, they do an excellent job in coverage. Placekicker Robbie Gould is one of the best clutch kickers in the league.
The Vikings will have a chance for the upset if Harvin can make it back for this game and he has a chance to return one or two kickoffs for big plays. He is one of the most instinctive return men in the league. The Vikings are solid in kickoff and punt coverage, while placekicker Blair Walsh is usually solid.

The Winner Is

Divisional Playoffs - Seattle Seahawks v Chicago Bears
Winner Bears
4 out of 4

It’s never easy to go on the road in the NFC North, but if the Bears can avoid mistakes they should be able to beat the Vikings for the second time in three weeks. Minnesota is simply too limited by poor play at the quarterback position to overcome the Bears’ defense. However, Peterson can be a one-man wrecking crew if the Vikings get an early lead.

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